Just last weekend we saw two mouthwatering encounters in Serie A that featured four of the top seven teams in the league. It’s those kinds of direct encounters that will likely determine where teams finish in the race for the Scudetto and Champions League places. That, of course, is the fear of Romanisti everywhere, as Roma has yet to defeat one of its direct rivals. The Giallorossi will have five more chances to do so as the season wears on. However, perhaps most importantly, Roma has yet to drop points against a team outside of the top nine.
That perfect record against places 9-20 means that each time Roma’s direct rivals play each other, the Giallorossi have been able to take advantage of dropped points by one or more of the big dogs. We saw that trend continue last weekend when Roma was able to leapfrog Juve and pull ahead of Lazio after they lost to Napoli and Inter, respectively. Meanwhile, a surprise loss by Milan meant that Roma edged closer to the Rossoneri—next weekend’s opponents.
While last weekend’s results were almost ideal for Roma, this weekend presents a similar opportunity for the Giallorossi: Roma will be traveling to Benevento to face the Sorcerers; who they hammered 5-2 back in October. If Roma can again take maximum points in Campania, there will be at least two, if not more, direct rivals who drop points again this weekend.
That’s because this weekend again features two head-to-head match-ups between top seven clubs. So, let’s take a look at who’s squaring off against in the matches that Romanisti should keep an eye on this weekend.
Perusing the Peninsula: Matchday 23 Previews
The Best Non-Roma Match of the Week
AC Milan (2nd place) vs Inter Milan (1st place): Sunday 9:00 EST
The Derby della Madonnina is back with more meaning than it's had in some time this season. Thanks to the unexpected Scudetto push from the Rossoneri, these derbies have been heated this season. Milan won the first battle between these two teams in October when a Zlatan Ibrahimovic brace secured the 2-1 victory, in what was the first real signal of intent from Stefano Pioli’s side this season.
Then the Coppa Italia gifted us a bonus match-up between these two sides in the quarterfinals—that’s when the fireworks really started to fly. Just last month, Inter was able to get its revenge by eliminating the Rossoneri 2-1 in a match that saw Milan dominate a first half that ended with Zlatan and Romelu Lukaku almost coming to blows. Then the match flipped on its head when Zlatan received his second yellow and Inter found a 97th-minute winner from Christian Eriksen.
With those memories so fresh, this one shouldn’t disappoint. The teams enter separated by just one point at the top of the table. Inter leads its city rivals after Milan lost away to Spezia last weekend. A win in the derby could establish Inter as the clear front runner for the title. Meanwhile, Milan could regain the league lead with a win.
For its part, Roma should hope for a draw or an Inter win. With Roma trailing Milan by six points already, a Rossoneri loss would cut that gap between Roma and Milan to three points ahead of next week's match.
Other Matches Featuring Top Four Challengers
Lazio (7th place) vs Sampdoria (10th place): Saturday 9:00 EST
The Biancoceleste were flying high going into last weekend’s match at the San Siro against Inter. However, the 3-1 defeat at the hands of the Nerazzurri ended Lazio’s six-match win streak. Meanwhile, wins by Atalanta and Napoli meant that Lazio fell to seventh place based on the tiebreaker.
The Biancoceleste will have a tricky match on their hands as they try to bounce back from that defeat. The Blucerchiati thumped Lazio 3-0 the first time these two teams met back in October and have played every big side tough this season, so they will be no easy rebound for Lazio.
Meanwhile, for his part, Simone Inzaghi will have to keep his team focused on the match at hand and not looking ahead to the midweek match against Bayern Munich in the Champions League. Lazio can’t afford to overlook a side like Samp. And dropped points against the Ligurians could be trouble for Lazio in the table.
Roma enters this match three up on Lazio and will hope that old friend Claudio Ranieri can find a result against the Biancoceleste. That would allow Roma to possibly push its lead to a more comfortable margin over its city rivals.
Atalanta (6th place) vs Napoli (5th place): Sunday Noon EST
On any other weekend, this match would be the best of the lot, hands down. But, when the Derby della Madonnina doubles as a top-of-the-table clash, this match becomes the undercard. These two sides should enter feeling pretty good about themselves, especially Napoli.
The Partenopei are coming off a massive 1-0 victory over Juventus at the Stadio San Paolo. It’s a victory that—if the rumor is to believed—saved manager Gennaro Gattuso’s job. Meanwhile, Atalanta escaped Sardegna with a last-gasp winner against Cagliari. That means these teams enter level on 40 points with Napoli ahead on the table because of its match in hand and early season head-to-head win.
These teams are no strangers, having already met three times this season. Napoli destroyed Atalanta 4-1 the first time these teams met in the league back in October. That match was followed by a 0-0 draw in the first leg of the Coppa Italia semifinals at the beginning of February. That tie was claimed by La Dea when it won the second leg 3-1 just 10 days ago.
So, based on those results, this one could go any which way. One thing to keep in mind is that Napoli will be coming off a Europa League match against Granada on Thursday. Meanwhile, Atalanta will have to avoid keeping on eye on its Champions League match against Real Madrid in just a few days.
With both of these teams trailing Roma by three points, the Giallorossi would likely favor a draw. That would allow Roma to push its lead to five over each with a win at Benevento.
Juventus (4th place) vs Crotone (20th place): Monday 14:45 EST
This match could be just what the doctor ordered for a scuffling Juve side. Andrea Pirlo’s men were feeling pretty good about themselves when a victory over Roma moved them into third just two weeks ago. But, as we’ve seen so many times this season, things can change very quickly.
The conversation of Juve jumping back into the Scudetto mix crescendoed last week, but thanks to the defeat against Napoli, it's become more of a whisper, especially since Juve were leapfrogged by Roma on the table after last week's results. Juve's loss to Napoli was followed up by a disappointing defeat in Portugal at the hands of Porto in the first leg of their Champions League Round of 16 match-up.
Juve will be favored to rebound in this one, as Crotone have been horrific in defense this season. The odds of Crotone ever taking a result off Juve are always slim to none, but it happened in the fall when the match ended in a 1—1 draw.
If ever there was a right time for Crotone to take points off Juve again, this is it. Juventus are downtrodden enough at the moment to make a Crotone upset possible. On the other hand, Juve could be really angry and take it out on Crotone.
Roma enters this one a point up on Juve, but the Bianconeri still have a match in hand.
- Fiorentina (16th place) vs Spezia (13th place)- Friday 12:30 EST
- Cagliari (18th place) vs Torino (17th place)- Friday 14:45 EST
- Genoa (11th place) vs Verona (9th place)- Saturday 12:00 EST
- Sassuolo (8th place) vs Bologna (12th place)- Saturday 14:45 EST
- Parma (19th place) vs Udinese (14th place)- Sunday 6:30 EST
Predict the Milan derby!
This poll is closed